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One of the best seasonal activities in Colorado is Durango white water rafting. From as early as May, locals and visitors alike can experience the ultimate outdoor adventure on the beautiful Animas river. Whether you’re scouting the rapids upriver or floating freely near the city, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Find out more about how to determine the best times to go white water rafting in Durango. 

White Water Rafting Durango

Colorado Weather

Colorado is one of the top ten sunniest states – with an average of 300 sunny days per year. It’s no wonder that white water rafting is a go-to pastime for locals and tourists. Despite the sunny days, weather is still a determinate when it comes to best rafting times. 

Snowfall during the winter and snowmelt during the spring are both factors when it comes to water levels in the warmer months. This makes weather an important aspect when planning white water rafting trips. Typically, rafters will find fairer temperatures in the mid-morning to mid-afternoon when the sun is at its peak. Although you can start your rafting trips as early as May, rafting is best during warmer months as late as September. 

White Water Rapid Classes

Before you head out, it’s important to recognize the rapid classification levels. This will determine the difficulty level of the rapids and rafting trip. There are six rapid classifications ranging from easy to extreme. Only navigate rapid classes that you are comfortable with – typically beginner to intermediate rafters are comfortable between Class 1 and Class 4 rapids. Class 6 is not considered viable for any rafter and even advanced level rafters should be wary of Class 5 rapids.

About Water Levels and River Accessibility

Because of the influx of snowmelt from the high country, the Animas river level is constantly in flux. This means that some days will be impassable, while others provide the perfect conditions for world-class rapids. There are three water levels that are typical depending on the time of year. They include:

Low – April and September

Low water levels typically occur at either the very start of the warm season or the very end. Adventurous rafters who want to avoid the crowded tourist season can enjoy more technical rapids at these times. You’ll spot more wildlife and get to enjoy a quiet atmosphere, but be prepared for colder water and air temperatures.

Medium – Late June to August

As the drier season arrives, the river water levels out. This is the best time for family trips or for beginner rafters. However, summer in Colorado is peak tourist season. If you want to experience these perfect white water rafting conditions, be sure to book your trips as soon as possible. 

High – Late May to June

The beginning of the warmer season often yields high water levels because of the recent snow melting into the river. Although high water season does result in more intense rapids and waves, novice rafters should be cautious. The swift current is more dangerous for those without experience.

To recap, you can go white water rafting any time between May and September. The best times to go rafting are mid-day to mid-afternoon when the water levels are medium to low. Only raft on rapid classification levels that you are comfortable with or have training on. For more information about Durango white water rafting, contact Colorado Outback Adventures.

Posted By: Casey

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